Compass ABC TV
March 24 6pm, repeated March 25 11.00 am and on iView for 30 days
“Everything I believe in life is about looking ahead; but without looking back, sometimes you can’t appreciate the beauty of looking forwards.” – Fay Sussman, introducing her performance of the Yiddish song “Makh Tsu Di Eygelekh” on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto... which she dedicated to the memory of 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust.
Even three generations after the Holocaust, many Jews have a deeply conflicted, even suspicious view of the Polish people... perhaps even more than towards the people of Germany itself.
The sheer scale of the murder that took place on Polish soil speaks for itself. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka... just some the infamous death camps where 3 million Polish Jews met their deaths. Then there were Pogroms and many other acts of Antisemitism encountered by Jews who returned after the defeat of Nazism.
Only a remnant of that community survived. Many of them - and their children - hold painful memories and still harbour anger toward Poland. Australia has the largest population from this community, after Israel.
What then does one make of Jewish musicians coming from Australia to play Klezmer, Yiddish music in small Polish towns where entire Jewish communities were wiped out?
This is exactly what singer Fay Sussman and her band, Klezmer Divas, did, after being invited by an inspirational young woman named Dr Kamila Klausinska.
Fay’s Journey captures Fay embarking on a Journey of healing to Poland to meet young Poles who are working to restore Jewish memory.
Fay Sussman was born in Poland in 1946 and – until recently – vowed never to return. But overcoming her fears – and the anger she inherited – Fay decided to make this surreal pilgrimage as a gesture of hope and love.
Filmmakers Judy Menczel and Paul Green accompanied Fay and her band; what they recorded is both stunning and moving. In each town the musicians were greeted warmly – with standing ovations - by people who didn’t even realise Jews had ever existed in their towns... and were hungry to know more.
She met with young local people preserving Jewish graves which lay forgotten in peoples’ backyards or recovering broken gravestones being used as building materials and former Synagogues being turned into a shopping centres .
It was a difficult film to make as Fay Sussman and Producer/Director Judy Menczel are both children of Holocaust Survivors. The film was created from a longer project called Pockets of Hope.
It is very timely, with the current Polish Government creating new laws to restrict free discussion of a painful history which, some are arguing will setback years of progress towards dialogue and friendship.
Fay and Judy believe for Jewish memory to survive in Poland today we must encourage and appreciate the efforts of young
Non-Jewish Poles in keeping Jewish Memory alive through Education Programs and preserving Jewish Memory in their towns and cities.
Who are we blaming…..the Grandchildren of those who have done us wrong?- Severyn Ashkenzy, Holocaust Survivor.
It’s a story that will move you and restore your faith in the human spirit.
enquiries: Judy Menczel ph::0405706107